ATLANTA (AP) -- Michael Jordan's farewell season was epitomized in the course of one game.
He looked his age much of the night. Then he couldn't miss. Finally, he watched someone else pull off the sort of miracle shot that Jordan has made so many times before.
Desperate to lead his team to the playoffs one more time, Jordan struggled most of the game before leading a frenetic comeback. He scored 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and also grabbed a season-high 14 rebounds.
It wasn't enough. After Jordan missed a potential winning shot, the Hawks rebounded, called timeout and were given six-tenths of a second to get off a shot.
Abdur-Rahim took a long inbounds pass along the baseline and -- with Jordan guarding him -- threw up an off-balance shot that struck
the rim, bounced high off the backboard and dropped through.
"It counts, any way you look at it,'' Jordan said. "You hope he won't get off the shot in six-tenths of a second. I don't know that it was a shot as much as it was an attempt.''
The officials used a video review of the play to make sure Abdur-Rahim got off the shot in time. Jordan stood along the Wizards' bench, wiping himself with a towel, then headed stoically down the tunnel when the refs ruled the game was over.
Washington's playoffs hopes took another major blow as the Wizards lost their fourth in a row. They fell 2½ games behind Milwaukee for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with just seven games remaining.
"There's still light at the end of the tunnel,'' Jordan said.
"I'm not going to give up till we're mathematically eliminated.
Even then, I will play the game like I know it should be played.''
Abdur-Rahim finished with 24 points, but the last basket was especially satisfying. Just seconds earlier, he was booed by the Atlanta crowd before sinking two free throws.
Clearly, most of the sellout crowd came to see Jordan -- not the Hawks.
"It's nice that they got their money's worth, as far as that goes, and we still won,'' Abdur-Rahim said.
It was a far cry from Jordan's last farewell in Atlanta. Before
retiring a second time in 1998, His Airness lured the largest crowd
in NBA history -- 62,046 -- to the Georgia Dome.
With his usual flare for the dramatic, Jordan scored 34 points to lead the Chicago Bulls to an 89-74 victory over the Hawks in that game.
This time, he was a fading, 40-year-old player trying to coax a not-so-talented team to the playoffs. There were several inglorious moments.
Early in the second quarter, Jordan got his hands on a rebound, only to have the ball ripped away by Alan Henderson, who then drew a foul as he went back up with a shot. Later, Jordan drew groans from the crowd when he put up an airball on a 3-point attempt.
Jordan finally summoned a bit of the old magic in the final period. He scored 10 straight points for the Wizards while the crowd roared, making it seem like a Washington home game.
"He's amazing,'' Washington coach Doug Collins said. "He's the oldest player, and he seems to have more energy than anyone else. He kept fighting, fighting, fighting.''
Jordan even showed his feisty side, shoving away Jason Terry at the foul line when the Hawks' guard tried to talk a little trash.
"I was like, 'Not the same ol' Mike,' " Terry said. "He sure did go off after that.''
With the score tied at 89, Jordan had a chance to win it after Terry shot an airball with 25 seconds to go. Once again, Jordan got the ball in his hands, shook loose from the defender and put up a 17-foot jumper. The ball hit the back of the rim, only his second miss of the quarter.
"I missed a great opportunity,'' Jordan said. "I had a great look. I had just hit one from that spot.''
Atlanta rebounded and called timeout before the horn sounded. The officials put time back on the clock -- enough for Abdur-Rahim to get off the winning shot.
"That's how Coach drew the play up,'' Abdur-Rahim said. "I don't take any credit.''
The Hawks played for the first time since the firing of longtime general manager Pete Babcock on Wednesday. Atlanta is headed for its fourth straight losing season, but did manage to avoid being officially eliminated from the playoffs.
"It was a nice win for us in light of everything that's gone
on,'' Abdur-Rahim said. "We wanted to give a good showing, show
that we have pride and we're a good team, too.''
At halftime, the Hawks honored Jordan with a farewell
ceremony that included a taped message from former NBA star
Dominique Wilkins. "From one high flyer to another, thanks for the
memories,'' Wilkins said. "You will truly be missed.'' ... The
Wizards' only lead was 4-3 less than two minutes into the game. ...
The Hawks beat Washington for the first time in the Jordan era,
Part III. The Wizards had won five straight against Atlanta since
Jordan came out of retirement for the second time. ... The Hawks
had their third straight sellout at Philips Arena. They have only
four overall. ... Hawks F Glenn Robinson sat out because of an
ailing left Achilles.
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